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English Tenses (past, present and future)

We will classify the tenses into past, present and future but take a special look at the present perfect and it's relationship to both the present and the past. The other perfect tenses will be included within the past and future categories.
Use the top of this page as an overview. Examples and practice are below this section under the pencil.

  1. Past
    1. Past Simple
      1. He walked to school yesterday.
      2. He was in this room a while ago.
      3. Where did you go this morning?
      4. It snowed yesterday.
      5. I watched television last night.
        (At one particular time in the past, this happened.)
    2. Past Continuous Passive
      1. The letter was being written at five o'clock yesterday
    3. Past Perfect (passive)
      1. Passive
        1. The letter had been written when I arrived yesterday.
        2. I had already eaten when they arrived.

          First I finished eating. Later they arrived. My eating was completely finished before another time in the past.

      2. Past Perfect Progressive/Continuous
        1. I had been studying for two hours before my friend came.

          Event in progress: studying. When? Before another event in the past. How long? For two hours.

  2. Present
    1. Here and now
      1. I am tall.
      2. What is your name?
    2. Present Simple

      For things that are regular or always, these days. For things that are true now and have always been true.

      1. It snows in Alaska.
      2. I watch television every day.
      3. I have a dollar right now.
      4. I don't recognise that man.
      5. He needs a pen right now.
      6. Water consists of oxygen and hydrogen.
      7. Most animals kill only for food. (c) The world is round. The simple present says that something was true in the past, is true in the present, and will be true in the future. It is used for general statements of facts.
      8. I study for two hours.
      9. My classes begin at nine.
      10. He always eats a sandwich for lunch.

      In general, the simple present expresses events or situations that exist always, usually, habitually.

    3. Present Simple indefinite (passive form)
      1. Letters are written every day.
      2. Tomorrow I will go to school
      3. What shall we do tomorrow?
    4. Present Continuous passive
      1. The letter is being written now

      Certain verbs are not used in the progressive tenses. With the simple present may indicate a situation that exists right now, at the moment of speaking.

  3. Present Perfect (passive)
    1. The letter has already been written
    2. By this evening I will have been at work for 12 hours!
      (Not ..I will be at work for 12 hours)
    3. I have already eaten.

      I finished eating sometime before now. The exact time is not important.

  4. Future tenses
    1. Simple future
      1. It will snow tomorrow.
      2. I will watch television tonight. (At one particular time in the future, this will happen. )
    2. Future in the past
      1. He said that he would write a letter the following day.
    3. Simple indefinite (passive form)
      1. The letter will be written tomorrow.
      2. I will be working all day tomorrow. (a kind of plan for the future)
    4. Future Continuous
      1. I will be travelling tomorrow
    5. Future continuous in the past
      1. He said that he would be writing a letter at five o'clock the following day.
      2. What are you doing? I'm driving a car (present)
      3. I'm going out tonight (Future!)
    6. ALL continuous passive
      1. The letter will be being written at midday tomorrow.
    7. Continuous passive future
      1. The letter will be being written at midday tomorrow. (This form is not used very often)
      2. When I started university I had already learnt how to drive
    8. Future in the past
      1. He said that he would have written a letter by five o'clock the following day.
      2. Have you been to France?
      3. I've done it already
      4. I would have played for Manchester united if I'd been good enough (Conditional)
      5. I don't care if you missed the bus this morning. You have been late to work too many times. You are fired!
      6. Julian lives a long way from the coast and he has never seen the ocean.
    9. Future Perfect (passive)
      1. The letter will have been written by the time you arrive tomorrow.
      2. When I got married, I had already been living with my wife.
      3. I have been painting the living room.
        (The action is important and not so much whether or not it is completed. I have painted the living room (past simple=finished)
      4. I will already have eaten when they arrive.

        First I will finish eating. Later they will arrive. My eating will be completely finished before another time in the future.

    10. Future perfect continuous (in the past)
      1. (He said that) he would have been writing a letter for an hour or so by the time I came.
      2. I have been learning English for 5 years now.
      3. I won't come on the trip next week because, I will have been working all week by then.
      4. I will have been studying for two hours by the time you arrive. Event in progress: studying. When? Before another event in the future. How long? For two hours.

    Tenses in English. More Examples and Exercises

    Present Continuous

    1. I need an umbrella because it is raining.
    2. John and Mary are talking on the phone. Also called the present progressive
    3. John is sleeping right now.


    Here are some ways to use this tense.
    1. Things that are happening at the moment of speaking.
      1. I'm working at the moment. Please call back. We are eating dinner.
      2. Julie is sleeping.
    2. Temporary situations, when we feel something won't continue for a long time.
      1. She's staying with her friend for a week.
      2. I'm living in London for a few months.
      3. John's working in a bar until he finds a job in his field.
      4. I'm reading a really great book.

      Compare this with the present simple, which is used for permanent situations that we feel will continue for a long time.

    3. For new habits or temorary habits. (for normal habits that continue for a long time, we use the present simple).
      1. He's eating a lot these days.
      2. She's swimming every morning (she didn't used to do this).
      3. You're smoking too much.
      4. They're working late every night.
    4. For stressing annoying habits, when we want to show that something happens too often and we don't like it. In this case we need to use an adverbs such as like always forever constantly.
      1. You're always losing your keys!
      2. She's constantly missing the train.
      3. He's always sleeping in.
      4. They're forever being late.
    5. For future plans and arrangements (with a future time word). In this case we have already made a plan and we are pretty sure that the event will happen in the future.
      1. I'm meeting my father tomorrow.
      2. We're going to the beach at the weekend.
      3. I'm leaving at three.
      4. They're coming to the party at the weekend.
    6. To talk about a situation which is slowly changing.
      1. I'm getting better at playing the piano.
      2. The weather is improving.
    The present progressive expresses an activity that is in progress at the moment of speaking. It began in the recent past, is continuing at present, and probably will end at some point in the future.

    Present Continuous Practice

    1. I am taking five courses this semester.
    2. John is trying to improve his work habits.
    3. She is writing another book this year.

      Often the activity is of general nature: something generally in progress this week, this month, this year. Note (o): The sentence means that writing a book is a general activity she is engaged in at present, but it does not mean that at the moment of speaking she is sitting at her desk with a pen in her hand (or nowadays more likely before the keyboard of her computer).


    Simple past:

    1. I walked to school yesterday
    2. He lived in Paris for ten years, but now he is living in Rome.
    3. I bought a new car three days ago.

    The progressive and perfect tenses

    Some points to consider when using perfect and progressive tenses

    Progressive (be) + -ing

    Form: be + -ing (present participle)

    Meaning: The progressive tenses give the idea that an action is in progress during a particular time. The tenses say that an action begins before, is in progress during, and continues after another time or action.

    present progressive:

    (a) He is sleeping right now.

    He went to sleep at 10:00 tonight. It is now 11:00 and he is still asleep. His sleep began in the past, is in progress at the present time, and probably will continue.

    past progressive:

    (b) He was sleeping when I arrived.

    He went to sleep at 10:00 last night. I arrived at 11:00. He was still asleep. His sleep began before and was in progress at a particular time in the past, and it probably continued.

    Future progressive:

    (c) He will be sleeping when we arrive.

    He will go to sleep at 10:00 tomorrow night. We will arrive at 11:00. The action of sleeping will begin before we arrive and it will be in progress at a particular time in the future. probably his sleep will continue.

    The progressive tenses are also called continuous tenses.

    The perfect tenses

    Form: have + -ed (past participle)

    Meaning: The perfect tenses all give the idea that one thing happens before another time or event.

    The perfect progressive tenses

    Form: have + been + -ing

    Meaning: The perfect progressive gives the idea that one event is in progress immediately before, up to, until another time or event. The tenses are used to express duration of the first event.

    present perfect progressive:

    (a) I have been studying for two hours.

    Event in progrees: studying. When? Before now, up to now. How long? For two hours.


    The Past Simple tense in English

    1. Completed Action in the past.
      I played tennis yesterday.
    2. A Series of Completed Actions
      I went to school, read a book, ate my lunch and came home again.
    3. Duration in past.
      I played for a football team for five years when I was younger.
      I studied French when I was a child.

      The Simple Past can also be used to describe a habit which stopped in the past. It can have the same meaning as "used to." To make it clear that we are talking about a habit, we often add expressions such as: always, often, usually, never, when I was a child, when I was younger, when I was at school, etc.

    Simple indefinite

    1. I played football for over ten years when I was much younger. (Note 'for' used with the past simple.)
    2. The letter was written yesterday. (passive form)

    Other usage

    1. I was born in London
    2. Where did you go yesterday?
    3. Why did you go there?
      (Not Why went you there
    4. Who went there?
      (Not "Who did go there?")
    5. It's time I left! (past form for present)

    Past Perfect Tense in English


    Makes sentences using only the past simple tense for these sentences. Red the past perfect sentence and the past simple sentences. Which do you prefer?

    1. "When I arrived, the concert had already started"
    2. When I got to the station the train had already left.
    3. Thanks for reminding me! I had forgotten all about it.

    More examples

    These are not made of two simple past events and so we often use the past perfect

    1. When I left home that day, I hadn't had any breakfast.
    2. When we went to London yesterday you seemed to know the streets very well. Had you ever been there before?


    Rule: use the past perfect if we use the past simple or speak about a definite time in the past and then speak about something that happened before this.

    the past perfect est utilisé pour parler d'une action terminée dans le passé, et qui s'est produite avant une autre action survenue dans le passé.

    past simple or past perfect

    I can speak about two events in the past in the order that they happened using the past simple.
    Eg: "I woke up and then got up."
    The fist event happened before the second event.
    I can speak about two events in the past using the past perfect. Eg When I got married I had already taken my driving test.

    In the past perfect (and the present perfect) we are not so interested in when the perfect event happened or how many times it happened.

    Form: had + past participle

    past perfect continuous

    The past perfect continuous is used to express how long something had been going on before something important happened in the past.
    1. Jane had been studying for four hours when her father came home.
    2. (I/you/he/she/they/we) had been swimming for over six hours when (I/you/he/she/they/we) finally stopped to rest.

    Form: had been+ continuous

    Gap fill test

    Fill in the missing words to form the past perfect

    1. I was sure that I
      the place before.
    2. I needed to know what
      to my car.
    3. The film
      by the time we got to the cinema.
    4. Lynne left the restaurant after she
    5. I went to bed after I
      off the television
    6. We
      the car for five years when we sold it.
    7. By the time we got there, he
    8. When I woke up in the hospital I realised I
      the car.
    9. If I
      to university, I would have studied computers.
    10. After I
      my homework I watched TV.

    English Grammar Question

    The baby was dropped out of the bedroom window into a big net HELD by the firemen Why can't we write: "The baby was dropped out of the bedroom window into a big net which had been held by the firemen" English grammar pages

    The second has a problem with the past perfect.

    The action HELD had happened before " the baby dropped" So in the second sentence the baby would not be saved!!

    Which was being held by .______

    Present perfect in English Grammar


    2 Complete the missing words in this script.
    Susan: Hello. My name is Susan.
    David: Hi, I'm David.
    Susan: When
    you start learning English?
    David: Oh, about three years ago..
    Susan: So, you have
    learning for three years.
    to England?
    David: Yes, I have.
    Susan: How many
    have you been to England?
    David: Only once.
    was that?
    David: It was last summer.
    Susan: How long
    you there?
    David: I was in there for two months.

    [HAS / HAVE] + [past participle (3rd form)]

    When you are using a verb tense with more than one part such as present perfect (have seen), adverbs usually come between the first part and the second part (have never seen).

    When do we use the present perfect

    We use the present perfect to look back from the present to the past or a time in the past. The time period We talk about is always connected to the present situation now

    Rules for using the present perfect

    The most important thing to remember about the present perfect is that it can never be used with adverbs which describe finished time periods, such as yesterday, five minutes ago and at three o'clock.
    These finished time periods Break the connection to the present!!
    If a time adverb is used with the present perfect, it should describe a time period which is unfinished and
    Still connected to the present
    such as: today and this week.
    We can speak about a period of time from a past time until now but we can't speak about a simple time in the past or a period of time that has ended.

    Correct examples

    1. I have lived here since 1998. (A period of time from past to present)
    2. I have lived here all my life (A period of time from past to present)

    Incorrect (Wrong)

    1. I have lived here in 1998 (A period of time that has ended)
    2. I have lived here when I was a child (A period of time that has ended)
    3. I have been here at 9 o'clock this morning. (a point in the past)

    If something happened only once but we can't say, we can use the present perfect to speak it. "I have been to France once." (we mustn't say when it happened. If we do say when, we must use the past simple instead.)

    If I have been to France only once then I can say:
    "I have been to France" or "I was in France" but "I was in France once." is better than "I have been to France once."

    If something happened more than once then we can add information about when it happened and how often it happened but we mustn't finish the time period "I have been to work every day this week"(unfinished time period)
    but "I went to work every day last week"(Finished time period = past simple)

    Use the past simple whenever it sounds simple and correct.

    Finished or unfinished Time periods

    unfinished TimeFinished Time
    today yesterday
    this week last week
    this year last year
    this morning* this morning*
    this afternoon* this afternoon*
    this evening -
    during the last two yearsduring the summer
    since I left school before I saw you
    For a long time that day
    - at six o'clock
    - when I met him.
    - five minutes ago
    ever** -
    just** -
    Can be finished or unfinished, depending on the time of day
    ever is only used in questions
    just is used to describe a very recently completed action

    Form of Time period expressions

    Some time expressions refer to periods and others to a single point in time. These time period expressions are key to understanding the present perfect. Check that you understand these time expressions
    Since marks the beginning of a period and is followed by the exact time or an event that marks this exact time
    For describes a length of time ending now. The length isn't always exact.

    1. For ten years (The ten year period before now)
    2. For ages (A very long time ending now)
    3. For donkeys years (A very long time ending now)

    In this test some time periods are not connected to now and so the present perfect is incorrect. Other sentences use a time period that is connected to NOW and these are good present perfect sentences.
    Take this test. Look for the time period and decide whether each sentence is correct or incorrect.

    possible reasons

    1. The time period does NOT connect with NOW.
    2. The time period does not have the correct form

    Some time expressions use with the present perfect

    Some time expressions such as adverbs of frequency are placed between HAVE and the past participle.

    1. ever
    2. never
    3. just
    4. often
    5. hardly ever

    Some time expressions are placed after the past participle.

    1. yet
    2. Since

    Some time expressions can be placed in either position.

    1. recently
    2. so far

    Some are used only for questions

    1. How long

    present perfect or past simple

    If we have a period of time ending before now then we can't use the present perfect and should use a past tense such as past simple or past perfect. Words like: yesterday, last year, when I was young finish the time period and can't be used with the present perfect.

    past simple

    All of these speak about a period which ended in the past before now and use the past simple.

    1. I went home yesterday
    2. I lived there one year ago (Not I have lived there 1 year ago)
    3. I lost my bag last week (Not I have lost my bag last week)
      (Last week I went to the police station because I had lost my bag. Is good but NOT the present perfect)
    4. I loved swimming when I was a child
    5. I had a good time when I lived in Japan
    6. I had red hair then
    7. at that moment I felt cold
    8. It was sunny that day
    9. one day I went to see my cousin

    Note: The word When is very unusual with the present perfect and is much more common with the past simple.

    Common expressions used with present perfect: Note that some of these are not used with other tenses but some may be. Words with a connection with the present are not usually used with other tenses but words like 'for' can be used in many situations. Eg: I played football for years before finally giving up. ('For' used in the past simple.)

    1. How long have you lived here?
    2. For ten years
    3. Since 1956.
    4. Have you ever been to France?
    5. I have been there once.
    6. I have done that many times.
    7. I have been there several times
    8. before
    9. so far
    10. already
    11. yet
    12. No I have never been there.
    13. I have often been

    Non of these refer to a specific time

    present perfect or past simple?

    These sentences could be present perfect or past simple but some of them are not correct. Look at the time period and the form to decide which are correct and which are incorrect.
    We can distinguish three situations where the present perfect is used, although there is a lot of overlap between these situations.
    They can be described as:

    1. To describe experiences
    2. To describe the duration of continuing states and actions
    3. To describe a past action with a result in the present

    You can use the present perfect to describe your experience. It is like saying, "I have the experience of..."

    Study this example

    Been shopping (beenshop.jpg)

    What happened? Sara went to the shops. She left her home this morning and is now back at home. She will put all her new things away in the cupboard soon.
    She has been shopping

    Different situations which use the present perfect

    The present perfect is used in some different situations but these are not always clearly separable.

    Normal experiences

    1. I have been to France. (This sentence means that you have the experience of being to France. Maybe you have been once, or several times.)
    2. I have been to France three times. (You can add the number of times at the end of the sentence.)
    3. I have never been to France. (This sentence means that you have not had the experience of going to France.)
    4. I think I have seen that movie before.
    5. He has never traveled by train.
    6. Joan has studied two foreign languages.
    7. Have you ever met him? No, I have not met him.

    The time used for something

    We often use the present perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.

    1. You have grown since the last time I saw you.
    2. The government has become more interested in arts education.
    3. Japanese has become one of the most popular courses at the university since the Asian studies program was established.
    4. My English has really improved since I moved to Australia.

    Accomplishments and achievements

    We often use the present perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. You cannot mention a specific time.

    1. Man has walked on the moon.
    2. Our son has learned how to read.
    3. Doctors have cured many deadly diseases.
    4. Scientists have split the atom.

    Something that we are expecting to happen

    We often use the present perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. using the present perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action.

    1. James has not finished his homework yet.
    2. Susan hasn't mastered Japanese, but she can communicate.
    3. Bill has still not arrived.
    4. The rain hasn't stopped.

    Things that happened many times in the past

    We also use the present perfect to talk about several different actions which occurred in the past at different times. present perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible.

    The army has attacked that city five times.

    1. I have had four quizes and five tests so far this week.
    2. We have had many major problems while working on this project.
    3. She has talked to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick.

    Important When we use the present perfect it means that something happened at some point in our lives before now. Remember, the exact time the action happened is not important.
    Sometimes we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience. We can only limit the starting time with expressions such as:

    1. in the last week
    2. in the last year
    3. this week
    4. this month
    5. so far
    6. up to now

    We cannot limit the end time with expressions such as:

    1. When I went to school
    2. Last week
    3. in 1999

    The present perfect can't use a time period that ends before now

    Notice how these limit the start time and NOT the end time

    "Last year" and "in the last year" are very different in meaning. "Last year" means the year before now, which has already finished before now "In the last year" means from 365 days ago until now.

    1. Have you been to Mexico in the last year.
    2. I have seen that movie six times in the last month.
    3. They have had three tests in the last week.
    4. She graduated from university less than three years ago. She has worked for three different companies so far.
    5. This week my car has broken down three times.


    1. I went to Mexico last year.
    2. I have been to Mexico in the last year. (I have been to Mexico at least once at some point between 365 days ago and now. We do not know exactly when.)

    5 To make Non-continuous Verbs continous from a time in the past until now.

    With Non-continuous Verbs and some non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the present perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now.
    Not I was having a problem for two weeks now but I have had a problem for two weeks now

    Durations which can be used with the present perfect.

    1. For five minutes
    2. for two weeks
    3. since Tuesday


    1. I have had a cold for two weeks.
    2. She has been in England for six months.
    3. Mary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl.

    Active and passive forms of the present perfect


    1. Many tourists have visited that castle. ACTIVE
    2. That castle has been visited by many tourists. pASSIVE

    present perfect resolving to past simple

    The present perfect is useful for interview questions because the present perfect doesn't always tell us about when and how often so:
    Have you ever been to France? - means were you in France at any time in the past. Conversations can resolve to the past simple as more information is given.
    After starting a conversation with a question in the present perfect, we can switch to the past simple at almost any time we choose. We can jump to the past simple before we have the time and frequency information. If we jump to the past simple then we are implying a time such as the last time. We can also stay in the present perfect for more follow up questions until a definite time has been established.

    Consider the following exchanges



    Have you read any good books recently? Yes I have, actually
    Which books have you read? I've read 'Wonderful Life' and 'The Language Instinct'.
    Really? And what did you think of them? They were very good. I'd recommend them.

    In this conversation, Jane's second question is about books, and, as she is not referring to a particular point in time, and it is still possible for Alan to read more books, it is natural to use the present perfect. For her final question she changes to the past simple, as the time she is referring to (which is not actually stated) is 'when you read them'.



    Have you been to the cinema recently? Well, yes I have, as a matter of fact.
    Oh, what film did you go to see? I went to see Seven.
    Really? What did you think of it? I thought it was OK.

    In Jane's second question she uses the singular, 'film', presumably because she's only interested in the film Alan saw most recently. She then uses the past simple, as she is referring to the time 'when you went to the cinema', and she doesn't imagine that the action will be repeated - that is, that Alan will go to see the film again.

    dropped 'H' Sometimes when we hear sentences in the present perfect some words can seem to have no gap and appear as a single word. Here are some sentences with the way they may sound. Sound files will soon be placed on this page

    1. I've had


    2. Have you had

      h æ v j u: h æ ɒ

    3. Has she had
      h æ z ʇ i: æ ɒ
    4. Has he had
      h æ z i: h æ ɒ
    5. Has he been
      h æ z b i: n
    6. Has he been
      h æ z i: b I n
      short 'i' sound as in FISH

    The Present Simple in English Grammar

    Use the present simple for:
    1. Routines and everyday occurances or repeated actions, habits, hobbies, daily/weekly activites.
    2. Facts or generalisations
    3. present form with IF "If I succeed, ..."

    Negative Verbs

    present simple or present continuous ?

    I am doing and I do

    present continuous

    use the present continuous I am doing for something that is happening now or close to now. The action is not finished

    1. The water is boiling. Can you turn it off?
    2. It isn't raining now.
    3. I'm going to work now.

    present simple

    use the present simple I do for general things or things that happen many times
    1. Water boils at 100 degrees centigrade.
    2. Excuse me, do you speak English?

    Remember that the present continuous can be used for future plans

    past Simple or present perfect?

    A: Did you go to France.
    B: Yes, I went on that trip. I always go on these orgnised school trips.

    Let's take a quick look at how to use past tenses and then study simple past vs. past perfect, since those are the tenses I see most often confused.

    The past Tenses of a Verb in English

    When Droit entered the room, his cousin was pouring himself a brandy. Michael had always been fond of brandy; he had been drinking it for years.

    The simple past tense is the past tense you all know quite well; the past tense in which most novels are written. In this example, "entered" is simple past: Droit entered the room. You create the simple past tense by using the past participle of a verb It's usually verb+ed (enter+ed=entered), although numerous irregular verbs break that rule (not drinked, but drank).

    past continuous is the tense used when something is going on at the same time as what's going on in simple past tense. "Was pouring" is past continuous: his cousin was pouring himself a brandy. It implies interruption, although there's really nothing to stop Michael here from continuing to pour. :-) You form the past continuous by adding was or were to the past participle.

    past Simple.

    past perfect is the tense you use when referring to something that happened before what's going on in simple past tense in your story. Here, Droit is reflecting on Michael's past as a brandy-drinker. "Had been fond" is past perfect: Michael had always been fond of brandy. You create this tense by had + the past participle.

    past perfect continuous is the tense you use when you're in past perfect and referring to something ongoing. 'Had been drinking' is in past perfect continuous: He had been drinking it for years. You form the past perfect continuous by had been + past participle.

    Droit remembered their fathers drinking together, back when he and Michael had been children.

    past Simple

    Their fathers were drinking again, and Michael and Droit hurried away from the parlour to find a place to hide. Neither of the boys liked each other, but they liked their father's tendency to come out of a drinking bout ranting and swinging their fists even less.

    Get it? In this case, the flashback is 'live', so it's told in simple past tense again. The benefit is that I can avoid writing a whole passage in past perfect. The disadvantage is that I will need to spend more time and effort to develop this scene, when sometimes all I really want to do is present a short, expository reminiscence that doesn't break the flow of the story.

    It would be incorrect to write the passage as follows:

    Droit remembered their fathers drinking together, back when he and Michael were children. They hated each other, but they hated the blind ferocity of their drunken fathers even more. Despite the boys' differences, they became reluctant allies by necessity, escaping the parlour to hide in back rooms where their heavy-handed fathers couldn't find them after hours of drinking and complaining finally took their toll.

    This is written entirely in simple past tense, and it doesn't make grammatical sense, especially if Droit and Michael no longer hate each other or are no longer reluctant allies. Writing this reminiscence in the same tense as the rest of the novel makes it sound as if it's still happening - it's merging the events of their childhood and adulthood in a confusing way.

    No doubt many writers would like to ring the death knell of the past perfect tense, but it's necessary to keep events properly sorted out along your story's or novel's timeline. If time elements are important in your novel, then so is the past perfect tense. use it correctly and your editors will thank you!


    Complete this report about the history of Joie de Vivre.

    Use the past simple or the present perfect forms of the verbs in brackets.

    I ____ (receive) the year's results yesterday and I am delighted to announce that our company (have) another fantastic year. We (start) in 1970 in a small factory in Shatin, Hong Kong, and we only employed four people. That number (grow) to around 2.000 today.

    In the early years we (face) strong competition from our competitors and in 1982 we nearly ____ (go) bankrupt. But from that difficult period until now, we (hold) out and we (not make) the mistake of becoming typecast as a label for the changeable junior market.

    Things (improve) considerably since we (move) from Shatin to China. In 2000 we (buy) the international operations of our partner company Joie de Vivre Holdings and we now do business in more than 30 countries.

    In recent years we (expand) our product range and we have carved out a sizeable niche in the same market as Benetton and Zara.

    Last year we (have) our fifth consecutive year of growth with $98 million in net profit and in January of this year we (deliver) the first retail stock to be included in Hong Kong's Hang Seng index.

    A lot of change (take) place recently. This is because last year most of our sales came (come) from the Asian market. So, in January this year, we (decide) to try and break into the US market. Just recently, we (enter) into negotiations with Macy's department stores.

    In conclusion, our company so far this year (prosper) and that is down to all your hard work. Congratulations to you all.

    The Present Continuous in English Grammar

    We use continuous tenses only for actions and happenings (they are eating it's raining etc.,) Some verbs (For example know and like are not action verbs. You can't say 'I am knowing' or 'I am liking'. You can only say I like, they know.

    The present Continuous for future plans

    If we are sure of our future plans then we can use the present continuous to speak about them.

    Note: That with the conjunction and connecting two actions, be careful with the present continuous, as sometimes it can only be used for the first action.
    Eg: "I am going on holiday tomorrow and I will take my car with me." (or ..I am taking my car with me).
    But: "I am taking a pair of sunglasses with me and I will wear them every day.
    Here, the second action switches to the present simple because it describes a routine that is planned and not a single action.

    Continuous or Simple Tense? - Common Mistakes

    Tick the correct sentence in each pair.

    1. a) Global weather patterns have changed for many years.
      b) Global weather patterns have been changing for many years.
    2. 2) a) I'd stayed at a hotel for six month when I bought my house.
      b) I'd been staying at a hotel for six month when I bought my house.
    We use the simple aspect of tenses for actions which we think are:
    1. Finished: I've done my homework. (the homework is finished)
    2. Permanent: I've lived in England for 10 years. I've worked for this company for most of that time. (I think I will remain in England and continue to work for the same company)
    We use the continuous aspect of tenses for actions which we think are:
    1. - unfinished or in progress: I've been doing my homework. (it isn't finished yet)
    2. temporary: I've been living in England for six months. I've been working as a secretary. (I think I will leave England one day - my job is temporary)
    We use past perfect tenses to connect two actions, and past perfect continuous when one event interrupts another: I'd been waiting for twenty minutes when the bus arrived. This choice of simple or continuous applies to all tenses.

    Correct the mistakes below

    1. I've written this essay all day.
    Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verb in brackets.
    1. I _________(live) here all my life and never want to leave.
    2. I ________(attend) a beginner's class in Spanish for six weeks.
    3. We _________(drive) for hours when we spotted the hotel.
    4. I _______(take) the train for a long time. I prefer to drive.
    5. Mr Georgiou _______(work) for the company for twenty years when he retired.
    6. The city I grew up in ________(changed) so much. I hardly recognise it any more.
    7. I _______(work) in an office for the past month, but my profession is acting.
    8. She ___________(always / take) good care of her finances.

    Tenses: Active or Passive?

    Tick the correct sentence in each pair.
    1. a) Eating habits have changed dramatically in the last decade.
      b) Eating habits have been changed dramatically in the last decade.
    2. a)  Smoking has shown to be a cause of cancer.
      b) Smoking has been shown to be a cause of cancer.

    We use active forms of perfect tenses (had/has + past participle) to describe a situation which has changed:

    It's really stormy - the roof has blown off!

    We use passive forms of perfect tenses (has / had been + past participle) to describe something which happened in the past and has a clear effect on the present:

    The effect of diet on health has been proved.

    We use active forms of perfect tenses to describe a situation which has changed by itself. We use the passive forms when the situation has been changed by someone or something in particular. Compare:

    Attitudes to religion have changed.
    His attitude to live has been changed by the accident.

    We use the present perfect of activities which have a clear effect on the present. For
    finished activities with no connection to the present, use the past simple. Compare:

    Last week's football match was cancelled. (we are thinking of the past)
    Today's football match has been cancelled
    . (we are thinking of the present - there is no match today)

    Correct the mistakes below

    1. I'm afraid your flight was delayed.
    2. I'm afraid your flight _________ delayed.

    Choose the most suitable tense.

    1. The economic situation (has improved / has been improved) considerably.
    2. The light bulb (was invented / had been invented) by Thomas Edison.
    3. I (had applied / applied) for the job last week and now I have been invited for interview.
    4. The house in which he lived (had left / had been left) to him by his mother.
    5. Since losing his job his lifestyle (has changed / has been changed) considerably.
    6. It (has proved / has been proved) that caffeine affects heart rate and blood pressure.
    7. We (have organised / have been organised) a leaving party for Alex.
    8. He (had handed / handed in / has handed in) his notice last week.

    Practice Changing Tenses

    My Day is starting..

    Change this text from the present simple/continuous

    It is early in the morning.
    The sunlight is shining through my window.
    I get up and get dressed.
    I enjoy a cup of coffee.
    I look at the clock and notice that I'm late.
    I put my hat and coat on and leave the house.
    I get into my car and drive to work.
    I answer all my emails.
    At one o'clock I go to the canteen for lunch.
    I choose roast beef with potatoes and peas.
    At six o'clock I leave work and drive home.

    What to do.

    Read about my day and write it again in these tenses: You can form the sentences as you chose but keep all the information in your new writing.

    1. past simple. - It was early in the morning ...
    2. Future - Early in the morning the sun will shine ....
    More tenses Past
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